WELLINGTON Phoenix striker Tomer Hemed – the first Israeli to play in the A-League – scored his fifth goal of the season in his team’s 2-1 win against Adelaide in Wollongong on Anzac Day, in front of scores of Jewish football fans who had travelled from Sydney on a JNF supporters’ bus.
Hemed calmly slotted a penalty attempt past the keeper in the final minute of stoppage time in the second half to seal the win, which kept Wellington’s season alive.
After the match, he said, “It was important for me [at that moment] to run to the Jewish community [fans].
“I put the [Israeli] flag on my head and I said ‘Shema Yisrael’ – I pray every morning, and today I prayed and said to myself, this is my day – I knew it was our day!”
He also revealed to Fox Sports that because of a recent injury niggle, he’d agreed to play only until the hour mark of the game, but convinced coach Ufuk Talay that he was feeling fine, and could feel a goalscoring opportunity coming.
Talay decided not to sub him, and Hemed repaid that faith by proving to be the difference.
“That’s what happened, and I am so happy,” Hemed said.